'Disappointing' reason Manu Feildel missed out on MasterChef role

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Celebrity Chef Manu Feildel has broken down in an emotional interview on Anh's Brush With Fame, opening up about his battle with depression, and the 'disappointing' reason he missed out on a MasterChef role.

The 47-year-old spoke about getting a call the day after he had auditioned to be a judge on Channel 10's popular cooking competition, when he was told his French accent was too hard to understand.

Manu Feildel has broken down
Manu Feildel has broken down in an emotional interview. Photo: ABC

He called it "the most exciting part of my life and the most disappointing".

"I got the call the next day and they said to me, 'Manu, we really, Frankly, you've got to understand that you were that close'" Manu explained.

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"'We really love you. We really think that you've got a great character. But there's one little issue that we can't go past...your French accent.'"

He added: "So, that was... Yeah. That was the reason."

MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong, and Jock Zonfrillo
Current MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong, and Jock Zonfrillo - who has a Scottish accent. Photo: Channel Ten

Manu was born in Nantes, France, before moving to London at the age of 18 and landing his first restaurant job. In 1999 he relocated to Australia and almost immediately got a job in Bondi. 

He was then invited to work as head chef at Bilson's, a modern French restaurant, which won three coveted Chef Hat Awards, eventually making the transition onto Aussie TV screens in 2006 on Ready Steady Cook.

After missing out on the MasterChef gig, Manu instead got the role on My Kitchen Rules in 2010. He has also been a judge on Australia's Got Talent, and hosted Plate of Origin in 2020.

A few years later however, Manu admitted he went through a "really painful" period of his life, after he was forced to close his restaurant in Melbourne.

Manu and wife Clarissa
Manu married Clarissa in January 2018. Photo: Instagram

Manu opened Le Grand Cirque with fellow celebrity chef and former MasterChef judge George Calombaris, before it was closed just four months later in 2014.

Opening up about dealing with depression as a result, Manu told Anh he "cried for days like a kid".

"I was already having sleepless nights because I kept on thinking about the menu and I was exhausted. It was terrible," he said.

Despite his wife, Clarissa – a jewellery store manager he married in January 2018 – being pregnant with their daughter at the time, Manu said the closure of his restaurant took a toll and was "f**king hard".

"My daughter was born and I was an a***hole. I wasn't there," he said.

"And I was lucky to have a wife that was strong, was backing me up regardless... I wasn't me and I was angry, and she stuck by me, and then I turned again and restarted my life."

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

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